The idea of putting yourself out into the dating world when you’re single and you have a visible disability can be horrifying. What if you can’t find the right person for you who is able to look past your condition and your additional needs? As a young woman with cerebral palsy, as well as chronic illnesses and anxiety, online dating has been an adventure, to say the least.
What I’ve Learned
If I’m honest, dating for me has always been an adventure, from the time I entered middle school and went through the normal things young ladies go through. While in middle school, I had a desire to have an able-bodied boyfriend. This was because I felt maybe if I had a boyfriend, I would be able to fit in with the rest of the girls in my grade. Looking back, if I could tell my younger self anything it would be to not worry about rushing into relationships. I would have told her that once you learn to love yourself above anything else, the love of your life will come along.
Self-love and confidence is important when dating with disability and chronic illness. In order to put yourself out there in the dating scene, you must have confidence in yourself. Only then will the person you are dating be able to see you past your disabilities and chronic illnesses. That being said, I think it’s very important to be open and honest about your conditions.
When I was single and on Tinder, I made sure that when I was setting up my profile I wrote in my “about me” section that I’m a 24-year old with cerebral palsy and chronic illness. I wanted any young man that was interested in getting to know me to know I have these conditions and I’m not ashamed of it. Most of the young men who messaged me were OK about it, while some were complete jerks about it. These negative experiences, however, didn’t take away from my experience of online dating and learning about how it works.
Know What You’re Looking For
The truth of the matter is that dating with chronic illness can be difficult, but as long as you know your boundaries and what qualities you’re looking for in a person you may date, it becomes easier.
I look for someone who is from a good family, who has a life plan and a stable career. I also look for someone who is excited to explore the world and try new things. Positivity is an especially important characteristic for a partner to have in my opinion, because when you have a condition such as mine, I think it’s important to date someone who is going to simultaneously push you and support you.
The most important thing I have learned about dating with a disability and chronic illness is that when it comes to the dating process, it all starts with you.